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Gadamer's Theory of Meaning from the Perspective of Language as Medium: With

Essentialism and Anti-Essentialism as a Subordinate Thesis

doi:10.6258/bcla.2007.66.06
, (66), 2007

Humanitas Taiwanica, (66), 2007


/Author (Wing-Wah Chan)

/Page 153-178
/Publication Date2007/05
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20075

15 3 ~178

die
Differenz ist in der Identitaet
Sprache als Medium

95.08.07 96.05.14

154

understanding

Plato

self-identical
in itselfessence
essentialism

M. Heidgger
Sein und Zeit, Being and Time
Vorstrukturen, fore-structures
Heidegger 1977, 200; Heidegger 1962,
191-2
Heidegger 1977, 201;
Heidegger 1962, 193

ursprueglicher Sinn, primordial meaning


cognitive approach
interpretive approach
H.-G. Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode, Truth and Method
Ueberlieferung, tradition
Vorurteilen, prejudgments

E. Hirsch
validitynorm

155

J. Derrida
2

logocentrism
presence

extra-linguistic reality

Derrida 1976, 158

intra-linguistic

anti-essentialism

1
(Hirsch 1967, 126)
2 Logocentrism logos centre Logos
logical reasoning
presence
logos
metaphysics of presence
R. Kearney logocentrism
logocentrism
centralizepresenceKearney
1986, 115
3

156

Validity in Interpretation
Hirsch 1967, viii

Hirsch 1965, 494

Rorty

Beliefs do not represent nonbeliefs


relation of aboutness

(Rorty 1991, 64)

157

truth
theory of correspondence

inventiveness
Hirsch 1967, 10

determinate content

shareableideal entity

Hirsch 1967, 4

intention

D. Hoy

willed meaning
4

4 romantic hermeneutics
Schleiermacher

158

Hoy 1978, 14

substantialize
Hoy

a priori
condition

Dilthey erlebt

E. HusserlIntentionalitaet
Schleiermacher Dilthey

Logische Untersuchungen, Logical Investigations


ideal entity

verbal meaning

Gadamer 1990, 281; Gadamer 1989, 276-277

Gadamer 1990, 478; Gadamer 1989, 474

159

linguistic
interpretation

logocentrism

F. Saussure
signifiersignified
Saussure
8

Saussure

7 R. Rorty

(Rorty 1982, xvii)


8 Saussureconceptidea

160

diffrancedifferancediffranceDifferance
diffrerdifferent
deferredDerrida 1973, 129differance

disconstruct

SaussureSaussure 1959, 120


a system of differences

intra-lingusitic
extra-lingusitic
difference
deferral

signifiers

161

disseminate

free play

traces

undecidability

authentic meaning

Fromm 1991, 143

9 G. Madison Madison 1996, 108 Madison


unmeaningful

pure negation

162

V. Leitch

reading is
misreadingdissemination
Leitch 1983, 122

transcendental signified

zu den Sachen selbst, to the things themselves


linguistic signs

10

onto-theology
metaphysics of presenceDerrida 1976, 50

10

M. Heidegger 1969, 59

163

Medium

Wort, word
11


12

11
(Gadamer 1990, 421; Gadamer
1989, 417)
12 (Gadamer 1990, 450; Gadamer 1989, 447)

164

13

Medium
14

1.

2.

T. Aquinas

13 35Gerede, idle talk

14 (Gadamer
1990, 387; Gadamer 1989, 384)

165

Ausdruck,
expressionGadamer 1990, 429; Gadamer 1989, 425

15

16

species

Gadamer 1990, 430; Gadamer 426

15 Gadamer 1990, 421;


Gadamer 1989, 417)
16 Sprachunbewusstheit, unconsciousness of language

(Gadamer 1990, 408; Gadamer 1989, 404)

166

17

1. 2.
3.

17 (Gadamer 1986,
151)

167

1.
18


19


20

Gadamer 1990, 402; Gadamer 1989, 398

18
(Gadamer 1990, 407; Gadamer 1989, 403)
19
Gadamer 1990,
383; Gadamer 1989, 377

20 aletheia

168

C. Smith
Anstaendigkeit, decencySmith 1991, 200

21

unanstaendig, indecent

22

21

Gadamer 1990, 476; Gadamer 1989, 472

22

2000293-296

169

2.

Vorgriff der Vollkommenheit, fore-conception of completeness

hermeneutischer Zirkel,
hermeneutical circle

Gadamer 1990,
299; Gadmer 1989, 293-4

Vorgriff, fore-conception

170

23

23 coherentism

Gadamer 1986, 359

171

3.

24

Verstehen, understandingetwas uns


anspricht, something addresses us

Gadamer
1990, 304; Gadamer 1989, 299

25

26


24
(Gadamer 1990, 373; Gadamer 1989,
367)
25

(Gadamer 1990, 467; Gadamer 1989, 463)


26 R. DostalSein, das verstanden werden
wird, ist Sprache; Being that can be understood is language
Being that can be understood begins to speak to us

172

Gadamer 1990,
392; Gadamer 1989, 389

Verschmelzung
der Horizonte, fusion of horizons

27

Dostal 2002, 29

27
(Gadamer 1990, 300; Gadamer 1989, 295)

173

28

28

Sichversetzen, transposing ourselves

Einfuehlung, empathy

Gadamer 1990, 310; Gadamer 1989, 305

174

29

solipsism

29 G. Madisonundecidability
inexhaustibility

Madison 1996, 114-115

175

176

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Tran. G. Spivak. Baltimore: The Johns


Hopkins University Press, 1976.
___. Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserls Theory of Signs.
Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973.
Dostal, Robert J. Gadamer: The Man and His Work, The Cambridge Companion to
Gadamer. Ed. R. Dostal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 13-35.
Fromm, Wayne J. Lecriture and Philosophical Hermeneutics. Gadamer and
Hermeneutics: Science, Culture, Literature. Ed. Hugh Silverman. New York:
Routledge, 1991.136-148.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. 2nd edition. Tran. J. Weinsheimer and D.
Marshall, New York: Crossroad, 1989.
___. Wahrheit und Methode: Ergaenzungen Register,Hans-Georg Gadamer
Gesammelte Werk, Band 2. Tuebingen: Mohr, 1986.
___. Wahrheit und Methode: Grundzuege einer philosophischen Hermeneutik.
Hans-Georg Gadamer Gesammelte Werke. Band 1. Tuebingen: Mohr, 1990.
Hirsch. Eric Jr. Truth and Method in Interpretation, Review of Metaphysics 18.3
(1965): 488-507.
___. Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967
Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Tran. J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson. New York:
Harper & Row, 1962.
___. Identity and Difference. Tran. J. Stambaugh. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
___. Sein und Zeit. Martin Heidegger: Gesamtausgabe, Band 2, Frankfurt am Main:
Vittorio Klostgermann, 1977.
Hoy, David. The Critical Circle: Literature, History, and Philosophical Hermeneutics.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
Kearney, Richard. Modern Movements in European Philosophy. Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1986.
Leitch, Vincent. Deconstructive Criticism: An Advanced Introduction. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1983.
Madison, Gary. The Hermeneutics of Postmodernity: Figures and Themes.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.
Rorty, Ricard. Consequences of Pragmatism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota

177

Press, 1982.
___. Inquiry as Recontexualization: An Anti-Dualist Account of Interpretation.
The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy, Science, Culture. Ed. D. Hiley, J. Bohman,
and R. Shusterman. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. 59-80.
Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Tran. W. Barkin. New York:
Philosophical Library, 1959.
Smith, Christopher. Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Toward a Theory of Ethical
Understanding. New York: Fordham University Press, 1991.
52
2000

178

Gadamers Theory of Meaning from


the Perspective of Language as Medium:
With Essentialism and Anti-Essentialism
as a Subordinate Thesis
Chan, Wing-wah

Abstract
This essay attempts to show that Gadamers well-known maxim concerning
the theory of meaning, difference exists within identity, might be justified by
an analysis of his conception of language: language as medium. However,
both essentialism and anti-essentialism in the theory of meaning presuppose
another conception of language: the independence of language. This conception
makes interpretation impossible. In this essay, the theoretical difficulties implied
in the concept of language in essentialism and anti-essentialism are first
elucidated. Then Gadamers conception of language as medium is examined and
a justification of his theory of meaning proposed.

Keywords: Gadamer, theory of meaning, essentialism, anti-essentialism


Professor, Department of Philosophy, National Taiwan University.